The Sliding Doors Effect

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In the movie Sliding Doors*, timing is everything. The story begins when Helen, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, is shown running down a set of stairs to catch the train. For the rest of the film, her life is split into two parallels based on whether she makes it or misses it, which is enough to make you evaluate of all of the coulda, woulda, shouldas in your own life. When life seems to splinter into different storylines, what you're experiencing is The Sliding Doors Effect.

This past weekend, I schlepped back to New York for an old college friend's wedding. My best friend offered up the sleeping alcove in her East Village apartment, which she calls "The Cubby." I hadn't been back since I moved out to California in 2013. Sadly, though, it was to be a very short trip: I was due to arrive on Friday night, and was already departing by early Sunday afternoon, so I thought this trip would be a nice and easy in-and-out.

Our original plan for Friday night looked like this:

 1. Drinks at Virginia's
2. 10 p.m. dinner reservation at Lupa 
3. Go home and go to bed straight-away because...

Saturday's activities looked like this:

1. Early coffee session at Sant Ambroeus Soho
2. Go to an 11:00 a.m. Pilates class
3. Lunch at Pietro Nolita
4. Go back home to get ready for wedding

In regards to Sunday, I'd have just enough time to squeeze in brunch with another friend before scooting off to the airport. 

As you know, nothing ever goes according to plan. What can I say, I was in New York with my best friend! We were bound to stir up some mischief. And, boy, did we! (We ended up staying out until 7:30 a.m. both nights, which was obviously not planned.)

After dropping off my bags at her apartment, we did, in fact, partake in fabulous mezcal cocktails at Virginia's, and were halfway through our casarecce with shortrib ragù at Lupa when occurred to me that I owed someone a visit–an artist friend who I had missed while he was in L.A. last month.

"Do you want to meet my friend?" I asked from across the table while texting him on my phone, "He's really cool." 

"'Kay," she replied, taking a sip of red wine.

And so, at midnight, we landed ourselves at a corner bar on the Lower East Side with two artists. After a round of drinks and introductory chatter, we were spontaneously swept into a cab to go dancing at The Blond. "Let's burn off the pasta!" we screamed to each other as we bopped around the floor. After that, we all stumbled down to my huckleberry friend's gallery in Tribeca and smoked Glamour cigarettes while discussing art and drinking cheap whiskey in plastic cups. At some point, I cried. And then we hung out at an apartment somewhere. Next thing we knew, it was 7:30 a.m. 

It was one hell of a night. 

Needless to say, we missed our morning coffee, Pilates class and lunch the next day. The weather turned cold. Sometime around 2 p.m., we both stood in front of a ramen shop in the East Village, staring at their picture menu with bleary eyes. 

Me: What's the difference between these pictures?

Best friend: I can't tell.

Me: I think it's the egg.

Best friend: (long pause) Yes... Yes, it's definitely the egg.

Me: Is it weird that I want the egg with the non-spicy one but no egg with the spicy one?

Best friend: (glazed eyes)

"Is this normal?" my best friend's husband asked her, "Do you guys stay out until seven in the morning when you visit her in L.A.?"

"No... It's not like that at all," she replied. "We usually just cuddle in bed and tell stories."

Our reality would've turned out completely differently had we taken a taxi home straight after dinner. What a difference a text makes.


*It's an oldie from 1998, but still remains one of my favorites. Gwyneth cut her hair into a modern pixie cut for this film and I thought it looked so chic that I went out to the salon right after I saw it and requested it for myself. I was seventeen.

A Brunch Burger Story

From the menu at Manuela

A burger on the menu is a fail-safe item for when nothing else interests you–not the braised rabbit; not the lamb skewers with couscous; not the grilled quail with cherry sauce. It's a solid stand-by. You know what you're getting with a burger: a bun and a patty of beef. However, when it's rendered unfamiliar, you can feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under you.

This past weekend, I met my friend Carmen for late brunch/early lunch in DTLA. She had been in her home country of Switzerland for months and we were long overdue for a catch-up. As we hit the streets, she suggested we go around the corner and check out Manuela, the restaurant that recently opened in the same building that houses the art gallery Hauser Wirth & Schimmel.

Originally, she thought we could casually grab a burger at Umami Burger, but discovering something new together sounded far more enticing. The restaurant had been open for less a week and we easily found two seats at the white marble bar. Louise Bourgeois' Spider sculpture loomed behind us in the open courtyard.

After skimming the menu, we engaged in the usual "what are you having" exchange. The dishes on Manuela's menu were distinctly rooted in Tex-Mex cuisine yet infused with a locally-sourced and seasonal spin. Everything was elevated for the sophisticated and in-the-know crowd--the duck breast is cured, the chicken is smoked and the hot sauce is fermented.

"What are you thinking?" I asked Carmen, still undecided.

"I think I might get the burger," she replied, clearly intent on it. "Wait, what do you think they mean by 'deer burger'?" 

"Deer... Like venison. You know, a cute little deer."

"Oh my god, no... I can't do that. I can't eat a deer!" she exclaimed with widened eyes. "Especially not for brunch! Why would they do that?" 

We both envisioned sweet, little Bambi weeping before us with thick wet lashes. Needless to say, our reliable burger option was effectively nixed off the list. Meanwhile, the biscuits and gravy sounded too heavy, the cornmeal pancakes seemed too breakfast-y at that hour, and we weren't quite hungry enough for the BBQ ribs. It was at that moment that I knew what to order. 

"I'm going to get the chilaquiles!" I declared. (As a Texan at heart, I do love chilaquiles.)

"What's that?" she wondered. 

How could I explain this hot mess to a Swiss-Italian person? "It's tortilla chips sautéed in a tomato-chile salsa. Some bits are soft and some are crispy and then they put a fried egg on top."

Sold!

You really can't lose with what is, essentially, breakfast nachos. I was delighted to have seen it on the menu. Manuela's version was top-notch. Every chip was perfectly coated with the tangy, spicy salsa and simultaneously soft and crispy, which is key. The delicious pile of chips was garnished with guacamole, crumbled queso fresca and a drizzle of crema. The egg, which came from one of their 12 rare-breed chickens from the garden out back, was truly the cherry on top.

As we were chowing down, a waitress breezed past us carrying a classic-looking hamburger. You could say that if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck...

"That must be the deer burger," Carmen remarked. "It looks good... But it's still a deer."

Ironic how what she thought was unfamiliar turned out to be more familiar than the seemingly familiar. We continued on with our chilaquiles

 

 

 

Gagosian Gallery

 

This photo was taken at the Madison Avenue location.

GAGOSIAN GALLERY

NEW YORK
980 Madison Avenue bet. East 76th and East 77th Streets
212.744.2313

555 West 24th Street bet. 10th and 11th Avenues
212.741.1111

522 West 21st Street bet. 10th and 11th Avenues
212.741.1717

--

L.A.
456 N. Camden Drive nr. S. Santa Monica Blvd.
310.271.9400


This is the blue chip of blue chip galleries. You can always count on seeing museum-quality exhibitions within these walls, featuring artists such as Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Balthus, Pablo Picasso, Cindy Sherman, Cy Twombly and more. It may seem intimidating but the opening of a new show is open to the public. Go.

The Rothko Chapel

 

This image was taken from the book The Rothko Chapel: An Act of Faith by Susan J. Barnes as no photos are allowed inside.

THE ROTHKO CHAPEL
3900 Yupon Street
Houston, TX 77006
713.524.9839


I moved away from Houston, my hometown, in 2000. Every time I come home, it feels like a pilgrimage of sorts–a journey that reminds of where I'm from and how far I've come. These trips are marked with one very significant visit and that is to The Rothko Chapel. 

How can I explain what this special place is? The plaque outside of it states that it is "a sacred place open to all, every day." While it is a chapel, it's not religious, per se, but rather spiritual. Inside of this octagonal Philip Johnson-designed structure are fourteen large black and purple paintings by Mark Rothko that were commissioned by philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil. Intimate yet expansive, it is truly a gift to the city that keeps on giving.  

After a major break-up three years ago, I briefly moved back home and visited the Rothko Chapel quite often. There were times where I'd be driving elsewhere and somehow find myself pulling up on that leafy tree-lined street and parking the car. My sanctuary. I would sit on one of the benches and lose myself in the void of those big black canvases. y whole being would swell with emotion and, with every exhale, my mind would feel more at peace. Lighter. Freer.

From then on, whenever I'm in Houston, I make it a point to come here. Whether it's for gaining clarity or emptying out loads of anxiety, my initial thought as I get back into the car is always this: "I feel so much better now."

 

The Brant Foundation Art Study Center

 

THE BRANT FOUNDATION ART STUDY CENTER

941 North Street
Greenwich, CT 06831
203.869.0611
info@brantfoundation.org

Monday to Friday
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. by appointment only


It was my idea. 

In the middle of dinner with my friend Chum, I blurted out: "We should totally make a little field trip out to The Brant Foundation one day!"

I wasn't sure it was going to happen, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway. There were a few kinks that needed to be ironed out first.

1. How do we get there? It's in Greenwich, Connecticut. Chum has a car—score! But he doesn't drive and I can't trust myself to drive to Connecticut for the first time in my life behind the wheel of someone else's car. Womp, womp.

2. It's not open on the weekends. How will we have access? Luckily for us, Chum's friend Peter was able to pull some strings and secure a private tour for us. Done! Another plus? He can drive!

All that was left was to pick a date that worked for all of us, which happened to be this past Saturday. It was me, Chum, Peter, and their friend Shea, who had never been to Greenwich before.

We left the city at 10 a.m. and arrived to The Brant Foundation's expansive grassy property just short of an hour later, identified from the road by spotting Urs Fisher's monumental Big Clay sculpture. It was a beautiful juxtaposition next to the traditional stone building, which was originally a fruit barn for the nearby orchards.

We saw Nate Lowman's exhibition "I Wanted to Be an Artist and All I Got Was This Lousy Career." Two of us liked it and two of us didn't; it was a draw. Then, we went and had lunch in town at Meli-Melo, a popular post-Pilates/yoga lunch spot amongst the Greenwich housewives set. Everyone at the table ordered a crèpe, except for me, which was a mistake on my part. There'll be a next time, though. We made plans to return in the spring to see the next show, a Warhol exhibition.